Jason Brough

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Tampa could reportedly host 2018 All-Star Game

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According to multiple reports, including one from Yahoo Sports, the Tampa Bay Lightning may soon be awarded the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.

The reports make sense, after the league confirmed back in December that Tampa was “in the mix” to host a big event.

“The city can house a world-class event,” NHL executive Steve Mayer told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s proving it time after time after time.”

But if the 2018 ASG goes to Tampa, that may be it for any hope of the NHL reconsidering its Olympics stance. The last three Olympic years (2006, 2010, 2014), there has been no All-Star Game.

Earlier today, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted the following in his “30 Thoughts” column:

One of the reasons some people still hold out hope for Olympic participation is that no All-Star Game has been set for next season. However, it does sound like there are plans for one. At this past season’s All-Star Weekend, it was believed the next one would be held in a Western Conference city, but there are rumblings the league went southeast instead. It will be announced with the full schedule.

Last year, the NHL released the full 2016-17 schedule on June 21.

So there’s still time to strike an Olympic deal, then presumably give the 2019 ASG to Tampa.

But the clock is most certainly ticking.

Related: Pyeongchang organizers believe NHL still considering Olympics

Penguins defense holding together vs. Senators, somehow

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are proving the old adage that you can never have enough defensemen.

They could actually use a few more now, after Justin Schultz got hurt in last night’s win over the Senators. The Pens were already without two injured d-men: Trevor Daley and, of course, Kris Letang.

Schultz’s early departure from Game 2 forced Brian Dumoulin to log a team-high 26:08 of ice time, followed by Ron Hainsey with 24:49. Next was Olli Maatta at 22:33, while AHL journeyman Chad Ruhwedel had 21:25 and Ian Cole finished with 20:20.

Hainsey, 36, was traded from Carolina in February. He’d never been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before. He’s sure in them now.

“Keep ’em short,” Hainsey said of shift lengths, per the Post-Gazette. “You get into a rhythm, kind of, with a rotation going. Just don’t overtax yourself at any one point because if you get into a situation where you can’t recover, that’s when you can go out there and make mistakes. I think we did a fairly good job of keeping ’em 40 seconds and not being tired when we went back out there.”

The Pens also acquired veteran defender Mark Streit at the deadline. But the 39-year-old has been a healthy scratch for the playoffs.

It remains to be seen who will be ready to go tomorrow when the Eastern Conference Final shifts to Ottawa. There had been talk that Daley could return by then. Head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t provide an update on Schultz after Game 2.

Whichever d-men end up dressing, the Pens are confident in what they’ve got back there.

“There’s always the next guy who’s going to step up,” said Maatta. “Everybody has to play a little more minutes. I don’t think it really matters. We have so many good players in here.”

Predators, Ducks ‘only going to get escalated from here’ as series shifts to Smashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nashville Predators finally are facing their first real adversity this postseason, with the Anaheim Ducks eager to push, hit and poke them out of what’s already been a historic run.

The Predators insist they can play that game too — and keep their cool no matter what pesky Ducks center Ryan Kesler does.

Nashville center Ryan Johansen vented his frustration at how Kesler plays after the Ducks rallied twice in pulling out a 5-3 win Sunday night that tied the Western Conference finals at a game apiece. Johansen said he didn’t know how anyone could cheer for a guy like that constantly prodding and poking. Each picked up a penalty, with Johansen high-sticking Kesler off a faceoff.

“That’s playoffs written all over it,” Predators forward Colton Sissons said Monday. “Obviously, there’s some bad blood there, and they’ve been competing hard and battling all series. It’s only going to get escalated from here.”

Johansen wasn’t among the Predators who spoke once they landed in Nashville. After the game, he said he just has to focus on his game. Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said he hadn’t heard or read Johansen’s complaint about Kesler but defended his 24-year-old center.

“I can tell you that I just saw him on the plane, and he’s composed,” Laviolette said. “I saw him on the ice last night, and he’s composed. He’ll be ready to play.”

How much Kesler has gotten under Johansen’s skin and whether the 32-year-old veteran can shake the anchor of Nashville’s top line remains to be seen. The Chicago Blackhawks were unable to disrupt the Predators during their first-round sweep, and St. Louis won twice on home ice by drawing penalties in a series the Predators finished in six games.

So far, the Predators have matched the Ducks nearly hit for hit and still have the home-ice advantage in this series.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Nashville, where the Predators have won nine straight playoff games dating to last year, including a league-best 5-0 this postseason. The streak started in Game 6 of their first-round win over the Ducks after Anaheim took both Games 3 and 4, outscoring the Predators 7-1.

That is why the Ducks feel pretty comfortable heading to Music City after avoiding an 0-2 deficit for a second straight series. They also have a 4-1 road record after sweeping Calgary and winning twice in Edmonton .

“We believe that we can go in any building and play with the teams that we’re up against and give ourselves a chance for success,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “I’m not saying we’re going to have success, I’m just saying we can give ourselves a chance for success.”

For some Ducks, this will be their first chance at hearing just how loud Bridgestone Arena is in the playoffs.

“I’ve seen games on TV and played there in the regular season,” said Nick Ritchie, a 21-year-old forward. “They’ll have a pretty big crowd, obviously. We’ve been a good team on the road. We’re just going in there and going to try to take care of business.”

That means crunching the Predators whenever possible, a style the Ducks play very well. That includes Jared Boll, who had only three points in 51 games during the regular season but has played each of the first two games against Nashville. The 6-foot-3 forward has three combined hits throwing his big body around, including a big check on Calle Jarnkrok in the opener.

The Predators also have been physical, and defenseman P.K. Subban said he thinks they’ve been doing a good job so far, particularly Johansen. The center has multiple points in three straight games and just tied the franchise record for most points in a postseason with 13.

“He competes every shift, and he’s a big part of our team and a leader up front in terms of … how he plays a 200-foot game,” Subban said. “He’s really valuable to our hockey club.”

The Ducks’ style might be taking a toll on the Predators’ power play. Nashville scored four goals on its first 10 power plays on the road this postseason but now are 0 of 8 on the man advantage against Anaheim, including failing to convert through 88 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the opener.

Now Laviolette will have the last change, though he didn’t tip his hand at any possible changes.

“I think the guys will be fine,” he said.

Related: Predators postseason run has turned Music City into Smashville

Caps GM not ready to meet media yet

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Brian MacLellan isn’t quite ready to get interrogated by reporters.

Per Isabelle Khurshudyan‏ of the Washington Post, the Capitals’ general manager wants to complete a “thorough evaluation” of the team first. He plans to meet with the media later this month to discuss what happened in the playoffs — and, more importantly, what happens now.

The Caps, as everyone knows, have a number of big decisions to make this offseason. Unrestricted free agents include T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams, while the restricted types include Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky.

MacLellan may also need to address the status of head coach Barry Trotz, who did speak to reporters last week.

Per CapFriendly, Trotz only has one year left on his contract, and some teams don’t like to go into a season with a lame duck head coach.

Related: Caps facing the prospect of decline

Bolts sign World Juniors star Taylor Raddysh to ELC

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Taylor Raddysh to a three-year, entry-level contract.

A 19-year-old forward, Raddysh was drafted last year in the second round, 58th overall. He really rose to prominence at the World Juniors just a few months ago, when he had five goals in seven games for Team Canada.

Raddysh’s Erie Otters will represent the OHL in the 2017 Memorial Cup, which begins Friday in Windsor. He has 12 goals and 19 assists in 22 playoff games this year.

Taylor’s older brother, Darren, is also on the Otters. An undrafted 21-year-old defenseman, Darren Raddysh has drawn interest from a number of NHL teams, including the Vancouver Canucks.